Water Fight: Is Charging for H20 a No-No?

glass-of-water.jpgA San Francisco restaurant is charging diners for water (a buck per bottomless glass) and Michael Bauer investigates on his “Between Meals” blog. While the restaurant’s reasons are legitimate (the water they offer is filtered, available at room temperature or chilled, still or sparkling) and the dollar-per-diner charge helps offset the loss in sales of bottled water (a result of the City by the Bay’s Take Back the Tap campaign), most of Mr. Bauer’s faithful readers are outraged.

Confessional moment: I was a bottled-water consumer in restaurants until very recently. I like sparkling water, and when I ordered it, I was much more likely to stay hydrated during a meal. My inner tree-hugger forced me to abandon the bottled bubbly stuff, but if I could get an endless supply of environmentally friendly, sparkling water for a dollar, I’d consider it a deal. However, I do know that if a New York restaurant refused to serve a diner a gratis glass of our city’s tasty tap water, it would ignite a firestorm of controversy.

This probably isn’t the first time economical issues have collided with environmental concerns in the dining arena, and it certainly won’t be the last.